Paul Menzer gives his audience a historical framework for the ways in which Othello has been cast, conceived, and performed over the past 200 years. His insights into the problematic nature of “black-face” interpretations of the character of Othello invite us to explore how the play has–from the moment it was first performed–forced audiences to come to terms with their own fears of interracial marriage and miscegenation. Menzer’s detailed offerings into the play’s performance history in the South are particularly relevant to audiences who will see this year’s production of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s Othello.
Paul Menzer is an associate professor at Mary Baldwin College and director of the MLitt/MFA in Shakespeare and Performance Program. He is author of the book The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts (2008) and editor of the collection Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage (2006). He has published widely on Shakespeare, textual studies, theater history, and performance. He is the writer of the plays The Brats of Clarence, Anonymous, and Shakespeare on Ice, which have been performed at the Blackfriars and elsewhere.